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Archive for the ‘art’ Category

Flash Interview with Iulian Ionescu – Fantasy Scroll Magazine Editor

Today I am talking with Iulian Ionescu, editor extraordinaire at Fantasy Scroll Magazine. Listen up, writers!

SM: Hello, Iulian! Tell our readers about Fantasy Scroll Magazine.

II: Hi Stefan, thank you for inviting me to this interview.

SM: Tell us how the magazine got started.

II: I’ve been writing for quite some time and if there’s been any process that was hardest for me to understand, it was the submission process. Not the technical side of it, or the submission strategy per-se, but what happens after when my story is out there. Also, I needed to brush on my editing skills and also see what other people were doing. Those two things are the selfish reasons for the magazine. Once the idea popped in my head, I realized that it’s the perfect way to pay it forward. There are lots and lots of writers out there waiting to be discovered. Why not be a part of that? The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. This was in the beginning of 2013. I shared my idea with a few close friends, writers and editors, and they all told me it was crazy. There’s too much to do, there’s really no money in it, it’s a hassle. So, I put the project on hold for a while, but the idea never left me. It was there, in the back of my head, scratching its way out. So, I started to study. I analyzed the public side of other magazine’s processes. I looked at endless websites, spoke with editors and writers. Little by little, I became convinced I’d be able to do it. So, in late 2013, while my wife was a few months pregnant with our second child, I decided to go for it. I bought the domain, I worked relentlessly for a few months to create the website, designed the process and then launched the Kickstarter campaign. In the meantime, I started to collaborate with a few first readers and editors. Without them, I am sure I wouldn’t have succeeded, so I owe them a lot. By the end of the first quarter of 2014, the magazine was ready for its first issue. At this point, there was no way back… and if felt good!

SM: What makes Fantasy Scroll different from all the other online magazines out there?

II: I think “different “ might be the wrong term. Speculative magazines have been running for ages and in the last decade there are a few out there that have basically defined the new-age of online magazines. There are very few things we can invent, very few paradigms that can turn things around. If there are a few things that we try hardest to do is respect the writer and entertain the reader. I know that our magazine doesn’t offer pro-rates yet, which seems to be in contradiction with the respect the writer mantra, but that’s just a financial hurdle we hope to overcome. What we try to do is respond fast to all our writers, provide feedback when possible, and really respect the writer’s choices. We then strive very much to put the writer’s names out there. We blast social media, submit our site to directories, we try as much as we can to make sure their names are heard. Another thing is that we are relying heavily on new writers. We do publish reprints, and often approach well-established writers and ask them to submit, but our biggest joy is to discover new voices and put them out there.

SM: As of now The Grinder lists your magazine’s acceptance rate as 5.63%. From reading the magazine myself I have to say that quality is a must for you and your staff.

II: Indeed. I think that Duotrope lists us at 4.5% acceptance at the time of this interview. We do have very high standards and all stories go through three levels. We have a first screen made out of our slush readers. After that, I read all the stories that pass through the slush and I only push forward those that I believe are great and a good match for the magazine. From there the stories are taken by the editors. At this stage most stories will go through, but there were a few that got pushed back after a thorough discussion. Because we publish a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, we try to balance the genres out and get a few of which. And we do need more sci-fi… wink, wink!

SM: How do you plan to make the transition to a pro-paying market?

II: I have to be honest, if I’d in the position to fund the magazine myself, I would turn it pro tomorrow. But right now, I just don’t have that capability. Since we publish our stories for free, online, the paying readership grows very slowly. We hope that our new podcast will increase the numbers, and we also hope that our annual anthologies (the first one due in the fall) will improve those finances. At this point, once I am able to get to some stable budget, I will push for the pro-status. The first year we tested the waters with 4 issues. In 2015 we are doing 6 issues and I hope to move to monthly in 2016. We see surges in our traffic with every issue and our inbound links grow. So, we hope that the combination of more, and more frequent issues and the annual anthologies will allow us to earn enough to turn the magazine pro. It’s a long shot, I know, but it’s a goal that will never leave my mind.

SM: Tell us about your upcoming Kickstarter campaign.

II: I don’t have an upcoming Kickstarter planned; the only Kickstarter we did was for the very first year. I am very thankful to all the backers who helped us back then. The infusion of funds in the beginning was paramount. For us it was a success story, but we decided against running annual Kickstarter campaigns. I strongly believe that a magazine should become self-sustaining after a while. We have various ways to support the magazine including donations, advertising on the site, and subscriptions. If things get tough, maybe we’ll turn to Kickstarter again, but so far we don’t have to…

SM: The covert art for your issues in amazing! How do you go about recruiting artists?

II: I love art and illustration. Both my parents are architects and really good at drawing. I grew up as an illustrator wannabe until I had to finally admit that I just don’t have “it.” So, right now what I do is surf the web in search of those who have “it.” I spend endless hours through DeviantArt and DrawCrowd looking for awesome artists. I contact them and propose them to work with us. It’s a hard task, but so far it has worked. I truly love all the covers we’ve selected and I hope we can keep them coming.

SM: Let’s commiserate. Barring offensive material, what kind of stories are you sick and tired of in the slushpile? Mine are stories that exist purely to deliver a punch line and thinly veiled attempts at soap-boxing.

II: I agree with you there. I get a lot of stories that hinge on one idea. But instead of taking that idea and building a story around it, I see too often a lot of fluff created just to drop that idea one way or another in the end. The result is an emotionless story with characters that are dry and flat. I also hate stories that depict a lot of gore and violence for absolutely no reason. Last, but not least, I am very tired of stories that begin with a child who is walking somewhere with their grandfather and the grandfather is really wise. It’s become a cliché start, like the guy coming out of a car. Now, this being said, I just bought two stories of this kind, but just because they were really good. This shows that if the story is great, I am even willing to accept a cliché.

SM: Okay, John McWriter walks up to you on the street. He asks you how to get published in Fantasy Scroll Magazine. After berating him for his tacky name, what do you tell him?

II: I tell him, make my skin shiver. Whether it’s from sadness, happiness, or horror, I must feel your story in my bones. For that to happen, make sure you put great characters in it doing great things. Don’t spend a whole lot of time on world-building; I get it easily and so does any other reader. Focus on the character and his/her struggles. Make the plot interesting and fresh and make sure it is in fact plot. Things must happen, spectacularly. If I feel a knot in my throat by the end of the story, I’ll probably accept it.

SM: We sometimes get angry letters from writers who receive form rejections. Do you have that problem and if so how do you deal with it?

II: I honestly haven’t received a lot. I try to send very polite letters and quite fast. One time one writer did reply with “Orwell’s peers also rejected him. Good day,” but that was more passive-aggressive. If I were to get an angry letter, I would just ignore it. Honestly, I don’t have the time to teach manners or explain that this attitude is not helping. As a writer, I’ve received rejection letters to stories that, in my head, were perfect for that market. I felt a pang of anger, but I never wrote back. I don’t like to burn bridges and rejection is a way of life for any writer. If you don’t develop the thick skin to deal with it, you will never become successful.

SM: What can we expect so see from Fantasy Scroll in 2015?

II: In 2015 of course we started our weekly podcast, and we broadcast one story every week. We are going to experiment a bit with some wacky things to see how they’ll work out. In Issue 5 we had a graphic story, in Issue 6 and 7 we’ll have a novelette leading the issue. We are trying different things, and we are pushing the envelope. We want to put more stories out there and entertain our readers. We are going to try to get some more reprints from well-known authors and see if we can expand our social media reach by working with bloggers, writing groups, and writing sites. But really why you can expect from us is great speculative fiction from great (or soon to be great) writers.

SM: Here is a fun one I always like to spring on our guests. Recommend us a book or author that needs more exposure.

II: Good one, indeed. I am a part of a writing group called Writers of the Weird, led by Phil De Parto who also runs The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County. I’ve met a lot of great writers here who can benefit from more exposure. I will limit myself to just a few: Alex Shvartsman, Hank Quense, and Sarah Avery. They’ve all been published in Fantasy Scroll Magazine at some point. Alex Shavrstmanhas had more than 60 stories published in various pro-markets, and has recently published a collection of his works. Hank Quensewrites humorous fantasy and science fiction, as well as non-fiction about writing and self-publishing. Sarah Avery writes fantasy fiction, and her book, Tales from Rugosa Coven, was published in 2013.

SM: Your bio on the website says that you are a runner. Did you end up running a marathon?

II: Indeed, I am. My entire life I’ve been actually afraid of running. Two broken clavicles when I was very young meant that when I ran my shoulders were getting tremendous pain. But in time that went away. Around 2010, a friend of mine convinced me (read dared) to start running. I did and I loved it. My body got toned, I lost weight, I became stronger. At the end of 2013, I ran a hat-trick (that’s a 5k followed by a 10k on Saturday, and a half-marathon on Sunday.) That was the toughest thing I’ve ever done, so I had no doubt that in 2014 I’ll be able to run a marathon. But in January, I got struck by a car as I was crossing the street as pedestrian. It was a hard accident, but I came out okay in the end, but not before 10 months of physical therapy and endless doctors. And most doctors told me: you can’t run, not until you’re back in shape. Now, more than one year later, I am waiting for the spring to finally come and see if I can start training again. It’s going to be tough, but not as tough as the first time. I won’t give up on the marathon dream. Maybe not this year, but soon for sure!

SM: Where can people reach out to you on social media?

II: These are the magazine’s social media sites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FantasyScroll
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FantasyScroll
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/112513178431030711268/dashboard/overview

And here are my personal ones:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iulienel
Twitter: https://twitter.com/iulienel
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/109351607805691982746/posts

Feel free to follow me or the magazine, but don’t be a creep.

SM: Anything else you’d like to plug?

II: Nothing more than to invite people to subscribe and donate to our magazine. We live through your support, so please help!

Interview with Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Glittership Editor

  1. Glittership is open to flash fiction and short stories. Do you think there are differences to what makes each length of story successful?

Yes, but I find it difficult to articulate these differences in a way that doesn’t immediately sound fake to me. I think that flash fiction is most successful when it focuses very intently on one piece of the story, like a feeling, or a character, or an idea. As short stories get longer, they need to “do more” to be successful. But, that’s true of all fiction. The more words you use, the more you need to give me.

Of course, now I’m sitting here thinking about the ways in which flash fiction starts to approach poetry in some ways, in that each word becomes more and more important when the story gets shorter.

Then again, no matter what length you’re talking about, you shouldn’t have extraneous words just hanging out and doing nothing… heh.

  1. Do you have a favourite piece of flash fiction? If so, what about it stands out?

I don’t have a favorite – and even worse, I have the traditional writer’s problem when it comes time to start listing favorite stories or books. Essentially, I just go blank, and it’s like I’ve never read anything at all.

  1. You’ve worked as a slush reader for Shimmer in the past. Have you noticed any differences in how you evaluate stories now that you’re looking to create audio versions?

I quit reading for Shimmer last summer, but that was only because I felt like it was time for me to move on and work on my own editing projects. So far, the biggest change between how I read for Shimmer and how I read for GlitterShip is that with GlitterShip, I’m the boss. When I read for Shimmer, I was trying to pick stories that I thought might appeal to Elise, and was supposed to pass more stories up to her than we would ever buy so that she could choose between them. Now if I hold onto a story for a while, it’s just to see if how I feel about it changes.

I think that eventually I’ll be looking for different things in terms of how a story reads, but in my experience those differences are fairly slight. The two of my stories that tend to read the best have a lot of visual elements in them – scene breaks, poems, Kickstarter formatting. At the end of the day what I care about is whether or not I’ve chosen good stories, and then talented readers will take care of the rest.

  1. Glittership’s focus is on LGBTQ characters and issues. Do you have any advice for non-LGBTQ authors who might be interested in submitting their work?

In general, I think that anyone who is writing about people from a marginalized perspective that they don’t share should be reading copious amounts of fiction written by authors who are marginalized in that way. So, read fiction by authors who are out as queer.

Other than that, just send me the story! If I like it, I’ll buy it. If I don’t, well, we all get rejections.

  1. Anything else you’d like to say?

The first episode came out on April 2nd, so readers and listeners can check that out at our website (glittership.com). Additionally, issue #2, which will be out on April 9th is going to be a “flash medley” with three different stories between 700 and 1300 words, so lovers of flash fiction should definitely stop by on the 9th to check that out.

Flash News: GlitterShip, an LGBTQ Science Fiction & Fantasy Podcast Zine

We’d like to take a break from our regularly scheduled content to give a shout-out to a new audio magazine that’s currently seeking funding through Kickstarter.

In the words of editor Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Glittership is:

a short science fiction and fantasy podcast that will feature stories about LGBTQ characters or explore LGBTQ issues. I want GlitterShip to be the kind of podcast that features a diverse range of authors and types of short fiction, where anyone who identifies as LGBTQ or queer feels like they could be represented.
Episodes are slated to appear twice a month, and will be around 30-45 minutes each.
Backer rewards for the Kickstarter include:

• An e-book of the first year’s stories (the text versions, obviously)
• Buttons
• Story critiques from the editor (who is a sci-fi/fantasy author as well as editor)
• Sparkly knitted items (fingerless gloves, scarves, and blankets)

At the moment, the Kickstarter has just reached its second stretch goal ($3600), which will double the number of releases per month. So if this sounds like the sort of thing you’d enjoy listening to and/or wearing, head on over and pledge some funds to Glittership.

And writers! Take heed: submissions are open to reprint stories of between 100 and 6000 words. Pay is 1 (US) cent per word, with a minimum payment of $10, and you can submit up to 3 stories at a time. You don’t have to identify as LGBTQ to submit.

If you’ve got some flash fiction (or longer stories) which feature LGBTQ characters, take a gander at the Glittership guidelines.

It’s particularly worth pointing out that—unlike some other magazine Kickstarters which muddle the distinction between possible contributors of content and possible contributors of funding—Glittership’s Kickstarter makes it explicit that pledging funds is different than sending in a story. Nice!

If you like or write flash fiction, we hope that you’ll consider contributing to this new audio zine, either by submitting your LGBTQ-flavoured reprints or pledging funds to the Glittership Kickstarter.

How to Write Flash Ficton: 5 Easy Tips to Not Burn Your Bridges

When it comes to writing, behaving badly is a giant no-no.

If you know me, you know that burning things is one of my fortes, mostly effigies of my mortal enemies who just so happen to be Pro-Wrestlers.

All of them.

Burning bridges, though, is a big no-no. Metaphorically speaking. You weirdo.

So what does that mean? It’s quite simple.

Professional Writing Tip #1: Don’t be a jerk.

Writing this article isn’t easy, because I feel that I am preaching to the choir here. I also believe that a vast majority of people are decent. Every once in a while though you get a jerk and if you’ve spent approximately five minutes on the internet you’ve no doubt had the urge to pour acid on your eyeballs and rinse them with salt. If not, hoo boy, you must be a saint or something.

However, in the age of email, Twitter, Facebook and Youporn (mostly Youporn), it’s easy to mess up and post something dismissive or downright hurtful about an editor or a publisher. If that happens, you can own up to it and apologize.

There are instances of this though where people go bananas.

Flash Fiction Online doesn’t have a huge problem with such behavior, but it’s noticeable. Here’s why you don’t behave like a jerk when submitting fiction.

Writing Tip #2: People will remember you

Let’s say you submit a story. It gets rejected. That’s no biggie. You can always submit again. If you format your manuscript properly and follow the submission guidelines each new submission is effectively a clean slate. Attack an editor or slush reader and you can bet that the staff will hear about it. Not only will the staff hear about it, but other editors will too.

The e-zine community is tight knit. Especially so in the SFF field. People contribute to each other’s venues, meet at conventions or workshops, talk over social media – the whole nine yards. Set a precedent by being a jerk and everyone is going to be leery of you.

Recently a submitter called a female team member of FFO (I won’t mention who), and I quote, “menopausal”. That person’s name is now burned into my brain. I wish that person good luck elsewhere with his fiction (no, I really don’t), but I am fairly certain (one hundred percent) that he is not welcome anymore at FFO.

Writing Tip #3: Redemption can be hard to gain

Let’s say I barge into your house and mess up your DVD collection (because I don’t play by the rules, man). You have every right in the world to show me to the door. Next morning, when the mushrooms and alcohol lose their effect, I come over and apologize.

You will be rightfully skeptical because the burden of proof will be on me.

It’s the same situation here. Building trust and displaying your professionalism takes a long time, but getting rid of a crappy reputation? That’s tough because it’s not up to you. It’s up to the people you have hurt. When your poor behavior hurts someone, forgiveness will be doled out at the hurt party’s discretion.

Writing Tip #4: It’s easier to be nice

This might sound like a Sesame Street lesson, but hey, Sesame Street has salient points to make. Bile and anger aren’t good for your health; mental or physical. If you play your cards right you might even make new friends or connections.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t feel disappointed at getting rejected – if your story truly matters to you, of course, rejection is going to sting. The healthy thing to do is getting over it and getting it back into circulation – failing that onto the chopping block.

Writing Tip #5: Remember, always treat others like you want to be treated.

In the meanwhile, I’ve got effigies to burn.


Subscribe to the Flash Fiction Online YouTube channel for more How to Write Flash Fiction Tips and Ideas. 

Self-Publishing Super Hero–William Blake

Venerable poet William Blake, author of sometimes mysterious and sometimes brilliantly simple works, was a self-publishing super hero who might serve as an inspiration to would-be self-publishers. He’s perhaps best known for his illuminated “Songs of Innocence” (example plate below) and “Songs of Experience.”

The Lamb–Example Relief Etch, Hand-Painted
Image in public domain according to Wikipedia, from which it came.
Notifiy Flash Fiction Online if you believe it is not in the public domain.

He had a soup-to-nuts approach to publishing, illustrated by the unpoetic list below:

  • wrote the poems
  • created a new printing technique, relief etching, whereby the illustrations’ line art and text were etched on copper plates in reverse, whereby the negative and color spaces were etched away. (This is in opposition to the practice of making plates for each color.)
  • printed the pages on the printing press in his living room.
  • hand-colored each illustration, making each copy unique.
  • bound the books and mailed them to his customers.
  • marketed them, somehow, in the late 18th century.

If you see an original Blake publication at a garage sale, pick it up. It would be considered a museum piece. Then you can sell it and make the transition from waiter/writer to writer.

 

R.W. Ware’s Wares

Our artist-in-residence, R.W. Ware, is a tattoo artist. He’s going to the Down East Tattoo Show (DETS) in Bangor, Maine, this weekend. He’s blogged about it — along with the latest FLash Fiction Online offering and his Writers of the Future entry (busy contest-oriented week for him!) — and you might like to check out his Web site to see work done a little differently than you’ll see around here.

Even if living human vellum isn’t your favorite parchment, you’ve got to admire his skill. And his versatility! Good luck, Rich!

R.W. Ware on the Preditors & Editors Art Poll

If you’ve read the past two issues of Flash Fiction Online, you’ve seen the artwork that accompanies each story. It has been relevant and tastefully done in different media to match each story. It’s mature, sensitive, appropriate art through-and-through.

That excellence has been achieved through the toil of our art director and resident artist, Rich Ware.

Now other people are giving him the credit he deserves. Over on Andrew Burt’s Preditors & Editors Poll, someone nominated R.W. Ware in the “Artist Publishing in 2007” category. As I write this, Rich is #6 — a testament to his skill and thoughtful craft work.

If you agree, click here, scroll down to R.W. Ware, and cast your vote.

Thanks!

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